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Mills Folly Microcinema: Seeing Pink, videos by Ariel Teal at Arts + Literature Laboratory

November 30, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm

A still from Becoming (2018), borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, of Teal’s favorite character Faith (Eliza Dushku) dancing at a club.

A still from “Becoming” (2018), borrowed from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” of Teal’s favorite character Faith (Eliza Dushku) dancing at a club.

Film MFA and former instructor at UW-Milwaukee Ariel Teal, who now studies social work in Madison, will appear in person at this Mills Folly Microcinema event. While Teal is bringing three films that have made the rounds at experimental festivals in recent years, they will also be premiering two new works, Seeing and Pink Movie.

Teal’s dual professional backgrounds have had an impact on their work in the exploration of personal trauma channeled through techniques from found footage and essay film. Difficult and direct as their practice may be, it also has a sort of interior tenderness related to Teal dealing with their own trauma on their own terms. These films aren’t tailor-made for audiences so much as they embody a unique form of therapy to serve as a reminder for others of how their own lives may be fragmented in memory.

As on-screen texts in films like Becoming (2018), Monday Night (2018), and Romantic Getaway (2020) alternate between blunt descriptive statements and cut-up abstractions, Teal shows a poetic control of their words at the sentence-level. Monday Night particularly highlights this, with the language revealing entendres as it circles back on itself in fragments. “I hate that I didn’t see it coming” is shortened to “I hate that I,” which is further simplified to an evocative “I hate.”

This trauma-informed cinema breaks with the clichés one might associate with the idea. Teal reads between the lines of the narratives we create for ourselves. Intertextual readings stand out here, and the filmmaker intuitively understands the way our self-narratives are shaped by our aspirations toward beloved characters and forms (Buffy The Vampire Slayer and sitcom “special episodes” are central to Becoming and Romantic Getaway, respectively).

If the existing work is any indication, viewers can expect further developments in this direction from Teal’s new shorts that explore intersections of culture and the self with bracing clarity. 

(Viewer’s note: the program features flashing lights and printed descriptions of sexual assault.)

Maxwell Courtright


Arts + Literature Laboratory
111 South Livingston Street
Madison, WI 53703 United States
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